Missouri health director tracked people's periods as part of anti-abortion crusade


Missouri's state health director kept a spreadsheet of Planned Parenthood's patients' periods.

In a potential abuse of his authority, the Missouri state health director tracked the periods of Planned Parenthood patients, the Kansas City Star reported.

Dr. Randall Williams — an anti-abortion crusader who helms the state health department — ordered the tracking of patients' periods in an attempt to find patients who may have had failed abortions.

The news of the period tracking was revealed at a hearing that will determine whether Planned Parenthood will receive a renewed license to perform abortion procedures.

The period-tracking spreadsheet was created from data a health investigator obtained during an annual Planned Parenthood review. Data included identification numbers, dates patients underwent medical procedures, and how far along pregnancies were, according to the Kansas City Star.

It's reminiscent of a similar move by the Trump administration to track the menstrual cycles of teenage refugees in federal immigration custody. The spreadsheet was an attempt to block those girls from obtaining abortions they requested until they were too far along in their pregnancies to obtain the procedure.

Democrats in the Missouri state legislature are calling on GOP Gov. Mike Parson to investigate whether Williams broke patient privacy laws by ordering the period tracking and whether Williams can be trusted to remain in his role.

"The revelation that Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams used the power of his position to personally track the menstrual periods of Planned Parenthood patients is deeply disturbing," Missouri House Minority Leader Crystal Quade said in a statement. "State law requires the health department director to be 'of recognized character and integrity.' This unsettling behavior calls into question whether Doctor Williams meets that high standard."

Planned Parenthood also condemned Williams — who helped push for a state policy mandating that women seeking abortions undergo a pelvic exam three days prior to the abortion — for his actions.

"This is the reality when people in power want to strip away our rights and freedoms," Alexis McGill Johnson, acting president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. "They force medically unnecessary pelvic exams, investigate menstrual cycles, and do whatever it takes to take control of our bodies, our lives, and our futures. Enough is enough."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.